Historian hopes to restore 114-year-old Belen hotel

New Mexico

BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s one of the older hotels in New Mexico but it’s in bad shape and the owner is struggling to fix it up. Now, a local historian hopes to raise money to restore the 114-year-old railroad hotel in Belen.

Empty chairs and dusty tables sit abandoned in the Kuhn Hotel in Belen. “It’s been vacant for many years,” says LuAnn Baca. The hotel first opened in 1906 right next to the railroad station. “It was for the conductors, the engineers, and the railroaders,” says Joan Artiaga.

Artiaga says her grandfather owned the building in the ’60s. She bought the 35-room hotel in 2003 with plans to turn it into an artist co-op. “So that artists that were apart of the co-op could shows or a gallery and have classes,” Artiaga says.

Artiaga says she was able to fix the foundation and electrical system inside but says the restoration stalled when her husband got sick. “After he passed, I got real [sic] sick and was laid up for a couple [sic] years and so now, I’m getting back on my feet,” Artiaga says.

Artiaga says her goal now is to fix it up enough so someone else will buy it give it a makeover. “I’ve had a couple of offers on the property and they want to tear the building down and use it but I don’t want to do that I would really like to save the building,” Artiaga says.

Over the years, Artiaga says she has dealt with vandals throwing rocks into windows and cutting through fences to get on to the property making an already challenging renovation more difficult.

Last week, Belen historian Jim Sloan created a GoFundMe to help repair the old hotel. The $100,000 they hope to raise will go toward fixing the roof, windows, and stucco.
Locals say buildings like this one, are what make Belen so special.

“Because once those buildings are gone people forget about what was there,” Baca says.
The organizer of the GoFundMe has also gotten responses from community members about volunteering their time to help with labor.

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